Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                            HOME
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for May 2019
    Fantasy and Science Fiction are at their best when they are under-laid with unusual concepts, and have very real characters interacting with the problems those concepts cause.
Seanan McGuire, a very prolific author, offers what may be her best work. Middlegame (hard from Tor) suggests that there are hidden alchemists working to control the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a woman alchemist genius set up a plan to control to incarnate a basic doctrine into specially designed people to control reality. Reed, who she created from dead bodies, has continued her plan, discovering that the doctrine has to be split into two parts, language and math. Roger, raised in Massachusetts has the language. Dodger raised in Los Angeles has the math. At nine they somehow mentally talk to one another. At Berkley, where both are students, their connection causes an earthquake. A decade later in 2016, things come to climax because Reed has better candidates and tells his agents to kill them. To make things even more complicated, the pair have the ability to reset time, and have done so every time, their path leads to their death. Their journey is fascinating and I hope this in nominated for awards.
Guy Gavriel Kay has a new tale in his alternate Earth with a history that mimics our own and a light touch of fantasy. A Brightness Long Ago (hard from Berkley) sets his lyrical tale during early Renaissance Italy about the time the Constantinople fell. Danio Cerra is working for a Count the service of the head of a City-state known as the Beast. Danio is the son of a Tailor whose education in a noted school helped land him his current position. That count is responsible for vetting the daily women sent for the Beast’s enjoyment, most of whom he kills.  Danio recognizes Adria Ripoli, a noble woman under a false name, and helps her escape after she assassinates the Beast. Months later he attends a corrupt horse race and recognizes her again as one of the competitors. This is helping one of two Mercenary leaders earn money by betting on her. Danio had met the other Mercenary leader and alerts him so he can also bet on the young woman. Finally Danio finds himself representing his city as the two rival’s armies come to face each other.  There isn’t much plot here and external events dictate what happens, but this is a fascinating look into a corrupt and violent place. It’s a time when money can buy everything and those without frequently face ruin in the marauding mercenary  armies.  I wonder if this will get some award nominations as previous Guy Gavriel Kay tales have done.
 Night Shade Books has a ten volume collection of  Rudy Rucker’s tales, including his latest and what may be his best novel. Zoe Snapp and Villy Antwerpen are nearly graduated from high school when her pearly floats and opens an unny tunnel. Two aliens invite them to  Mappyworld, a flat universe in which worlds are represented by basins with thick walls representing piled up empty space between them. They need to go on a Million Mile Road Trip (paper) to get a special wand from a princess and save the Earth from invading evil flying saucers. Off they go in Villy’s 80's Beater wagon, madly improved by the aliens. Villy’s brother Scud comes along. The psychedelic  Mappyworld is a trip with surprises around every corner. Of course the Princess is not a princess and the wand isn’t a wand. Villy has to go into four dimensional space to kill the big bad, while Zoe and Scud have to use the wand and her bugle to distract him.  I hope this gets award nominations.
K. J. Parker tells that in pre-gunpowder days there were Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City (paper from Orbit). The capital of the empire has had its fleet lured away and its army destroyed. The highest ranking officer is Colonel Orhan and his three hundred engineers. The dying emperor has been deserted. The gangs at each others throat and pirates are keeping ships out of the harbor. Luckily Orhan is a rogue, a cheat, and a liar and figures how to get the whole city to work with him. Lots of fun.
 Tad Williams writes perfect beach books, full of interesting characters, lots of action and long enough to last a whole summer. The second book in the The Last King of Osten Ard trilogy starts with all the viewpoint characters in deep trouble, and ends with them in worse trouble.  The Queen of the Norns and her army have left the north to seek The Witchwood Crown (paper). Nabban, where Miriamele, queen of Osten Ard is visiting, is on the edge of violence.  The heir to the throne, Morgan, is lost in the wilderness. The  Empire of Grass (hard from DAW) is facing serious problems that won’t be resolved till the next tale, probably two years from now.
 Teddy Cannon, The Astral Traveler’s Daughter (hard from Simon and Schuster) is in the second year of the federal criminology School for Psychics (paper) still wondering if her birth mother was a terrorist in the Patriot corps. As she learns new techniques, like astral projection and psychometry, she also investigates a new drug that Hyle Pharmaceuticals to remove psychic abilities, she is also assigned to protect the Hyle family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a fun tale, but I wasn’t happy with the ending of this episode in the series. Since at least two more books are coming, I’m giving the author a pass.  
Olivia just got her father, Todd  released from twenty years in prison with the help of her boyfriend and partner, the lawyer Gabriel Walsh by proving he hadn’t killed the eight people he was accused of murdering. But it’s a Cruel Fate (hard from Subterranean Press) that someone has found the serial killer, Todd actually killed, along with the body of his last victim and left them for the police to find. Is it one of the local  Cainsville fae, or someone human. Kelley Armstrong tells a fun mystery.
    proves to involve magic. He’s also helped by Kelly, a river spirit. The trail leads to a group of men in a drinking society, and an ancient spirit, The October Man (hard from Subterranean Press). Fun.
Wm. Mark Simmons has another romp adventure for Christopher Cséjthe, a half vampire who keeps recovering from death. Recovering from being killed by a semi, he finds that he has to save the world by finding A Witch in Time (hard from Baen). It doesn’t help that he drifts into alternate presents every time he sleeps. At the same time his has to fend off monsters from Greek mythology. But he does get to work with the daughter killed in his first reality. I thought the cultural reference jokes at bit too broad, and the plot existed to give monster fight after monster fight. Fun.
    Alan Dean Foster has a new collection from WordFire Press in paper, The Flavors of Other Worlds. Larry Correia and Kacey Ezell have a collection of Noir Fatale (hard from Baen) tales about dangerous women.
    Baen has reprinted the classic Gordon R. Dickson tale, Timestorm in trade, and the last Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden tale, Neogenesis in paper.
    The Hugo novel nominations are: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal; Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers; Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee; Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente; Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik; and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on May 17th. The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. As usual guests are welcome.
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a retired Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords). Check out his unified field theory at henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests fusion generation requires less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full spectrum.  It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.